Read from: Fantasy Magazine
If I wasn’t such a sap, I wouldn’t be sent on these damn errands, but some mother is sobbing for some lost daughter and a father gritting his teeth and saying “half my kingdom” and the mama saying “please” through tears and snot, and I want to say “yeah sure, lady, everybody’s missing someone”, but instead I gallop away because they expect it, and let the rain worm its way into my boots.
Kelly Barnhill‘s “The Confessions of Prince Charming“ is the story that got me started on a cruise through most of her Web-published work. I’d never heard of her before, but “Confessions” ended up being the first short story I’d read in a long while to actually surprise me with how much I enjoyed it.
The title made me wary since it’s been done so many times before, but Barnhill paints a Prince Charming who’s painfully believable: a secretive little boy with mommy issues grows up into a flippant, self-absorbed, regret-eaten man who’s always reaching and never attaining. His moments of tenderness and introspection serve to highlight all the hurt oozing up through the cracks. He’s backed by a cast of equally wounded and intriguing cameo characters, including a witchy divorcée Rapunzel and a lovelorn wolf. There’s a moment of homoeroticism that came off to me as over-the-top – too many social-commentary buttons being poked at in one small space – but apart from that, I loved it. And lest it sound like it’s just a big Freudian sob-story, there are numerous moments of luminous description, as per usual for the author, and the traditional elements that she weaves together are playfully reimagined. Also, it’s pretty funny – Barnhill does levity and gravity equally well.